According to the release information (via CNN Business) the unprecedented move to stream Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max and in theaters at the same time will only last for one month. Following that, the movie will be removed from HBO Max and will only be available to watch at the cinema. The release plan then defaults to a more traditional one, although extended, with the movie staying in theaters as long as possible, and then getting a more traditional home release, which will include being available on video on demand services, as well as to rent or buy physically.
It’s an interesting strategy, and one which proves Warner is likely using the release of Wonder Woman 1984 to promote HBO Max and increase subscriber numbers. The streaming service has lagged behind its rivals, like Disney+ and Netflix, in gaining subscribers, and there is a thought this release allows the studio to kill two birds with one stone – allowing WB to make money in theaters and get more subscribers for HBO Max. The strategy shows Warner Media sees the streaming platform as the future of its core business, with this major release standing alongside Zack Snyder’s Justice League, available exclusively via HBO Max in 2021, as blockbusters going straight to the service.
What this means for the long-term future of theaters is still unclear. Warner Bros. will likely use Wonder Woman 1984 as a litmus test to see if its worth releasing high-budget movies to streaming. If the experiment works, the studio may well join Disney in releasing select blockbusters on streaming only in the years to come, a warning sign for theater chains which have already been devastated by the pandemic in 2020.
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Source: CNN Business